Contributors' comments on Reality Chex are always superb. If you missed those to my post on Jim Gile, I highly recommend you give them a read.
Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Obama has asked the mother of a six-year-old killed in last December's massacre in Newtown, Conn., to stand in for him in addressing the nation this weekend. Francine Wheeler, whose son, Ben, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, will deliver the president's weekly address that is aired on television and radio, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday." New York Times story, by Sarah Wheaton, here:
... See also Charles Pierce's commentary on the Politico piece on the Newtown family members, linked below. CW: what is galling about this week's address is that Wheeler has to make this plea to the Cowardly Congress, begging members to just do their damned jobs. ...
... Dana Milbank has more on how the Newtown family members pressured senators. (The difference between Milbank's characterization & Politico's is striking.)
Gail Collins, on President Obama's budget: "... anything that makes Paul Ryan this enthusiastic is scary." ...
... Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: President Obama's plan to calculate Social Security benefits based on chained CPI "would mean less money for the elderly. But it would also mean less money for children. One underappreciated point is that Social Security benefits millions of children and working-age Americans, as well as older adults." ...
... Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: "... President Barack Obama's budget would raise ... Medicare premiums ... [for] comfortably retired seniors, adding to a surcharge that already costs some 2 million beneficiaries hundreds of dollars a year each. More importantly, due to the creeping effects of inflation, 20 million Medicare beneficiaries would end up paying higher 'income related' premiums for their outpatient and prescription coverage over time. Administration officials say Obama's proposal will help improve the financial stability of Medicare by reducing taxpayer subsidies for retirees who can afford to pay a bigger share of costs. Congressional Republicans agree with the president on this one, making it highly likely the idea will become law if there's a budget deal this year." CW: I guess I'm "comfortably retired" because the Feds take out about a fifth of my Social Security payment to cover the Medicare premium, a hefty deduction that makes me "uncomfortable."
Obama 2.0. John Broder of the New York Times: "Sally Jewell officially became the 51st interior secretary on Friday, taking the oath at noon from retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the Supreme Court's West Conference Room, one of two formal ceremonial conference rooms at the court.... The Senate approved her nomination on Wednesday on a vote of 87 to 11."
Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama's personal income has plummeted in the four years since he was first inaugurated, thanks mostly to declining sales of his two best-selling books, according to his 2012 tax returns released on Friday. For 2009, Mr. Obama and Michelle Obama reported earning $5.5 million in income, almost all of it from royalties related to Mr. Obama's books, 'Dreams from My Father' and 'The Audacity of Hope.' Sales of the books made him a multimillionaire. By 2012, the couple's taxable income had dropped to about $608,000, with only about $273,000 from sales and royalties from the books, according to the tax return. Most of the income came from Mr. Obama's presidential salary of $400,000 per year." A pdf of the Obamas' tax return is here. The Bidens' tax return is here.
Kirk Johnson of the New York Times: "Under an agreement signed with the Obama administration last year, and just now taking shape, Oregon and the federal government have wagered $1.9 billion that -- through a hyper-local focus on Medicaid -- the state can show both improved health outcomes for low-income Medicaid populations and a lower rate of spending growth than the rest of the nation."
News Flash! Corporations Are Not Democracies. James Stewart of the New York Times: At 41 publicly traded companies where directors actually lost their elections last year, meaning that more than 50 percent of the shareholders withheld their votes of approval..., they remained in their posts.... That an electoral system unworthy of Soviet-era sham democracies is flourishing today in corporate America is largely thanks to the management- and director-friendly policies of Delaware, where more than half of United States companies are incorporated and where the corporate franchise tax contributes disproportionately to the state's revenue. State law controls board governance, and Delaware has long tolerated [so-called] plurality voting [where] ... directors run unopposed and just one vote is enough to be elected."
Graft, Virginia-Style. The Washington Post Editors whack Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for taking bribes gifts to family members from a Virginia CEO in exchange for promoting his company's products.
In a few grafs about a disgusting piece by Jim VandeHei & Mike Allen, Charles Pierce sums up what's the matter with Politico.
Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "The Virginia Board of Health voted Friday to require clinics that perform abortions to meet strict, hospital-style building codes that operators say could put many of them out of business."
Reuters: "A former justice of the peace in Kaufman County, Texas, whose home was searched as part of the probe into the killings of the local district attorney, his wife and a prosecutor, has been arrested on suspicion of threatening violence, officials said on Saturday. Eric L. Williams, 46, was arrested on Friday on charges of making a 'terroristic' threat, which generally involves a threat to commit violence.... It was not immediately clear whether the alleged threat had any connection to the slayings...."
AP: "Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad resigned on Saturday, leaving the Palestinians without one of their most moderate and well-respected voices just as the U.S. is launching a new push for Mideast peace."
New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry arrived [in Beijing] on Saturday to seek China's help in defusing the growing tensions with North Korea." ...
... AP Update: " The United States and China committed Saturday to a process aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons, with the Obama administration gaining at least the rhetorical support of the only government that can exert significant influence over the reclusive North."
Washington Post: "As promised, Russia on Saturday released the names of American officials who are now banned from the country, in retaliation for the Magnitsky list made public in Washington on Friday. The United States imposed visa and banking sanctions on 18 Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. Russia responded by naming 18 Americans it accuses of human rights violations at the Guantanamo prison camp, or of having had a role in the detention of Russian citizens in third countries."
Reuters: "The retrial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was aborted on Saturday when the presiding judge withdrew from the case and referred it to another court, causing an indefinite delay that sparked anger in the courtroom. Lawyers said that while the transfer would give prosecutors more time to draw on new evidence in an unpublished fact-finding commission's report into the repression, it could delay the case by months, increasing the risk that Mubarak, 84, may never be finally convicted and sentenced."